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Rain Barrel Project

ENVE 560 Class Project

Reusing a Pepsi barrel to construct a rain barrel for catching rooftop runoff rain. This will conserve the use of water and energy when watering flower gardens.

In the Fall semester of 2010, Dr. Terry Wilson offered the graduate course ENVE 560: Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues. This particular course is based on a six-step environmental service learning program known as Earth Force. Dr. Wilson facilitated the process, but the students ultimately decides which service learning project they want to complete as a class. The graduate students inventoried issues on campus and after examining the resources available and the area with the most need, they decided that storm water management is a major issue that needs attention. Christian Ryan-Downing, Sustainability Coordinator for Western Kentucky University, visited the one of the class meetings to share her expertise on the subject. She mentioned the fact that the Pepsi company offered to supply large barrels used for transporting syrup. These barrels could easily be reused as rain barrels for buildings on campus. After hearing this information, the graduate students decided to tackle this project. They decided to make two rain barrels for their project: one to deliver to President Ransdell and one to keep as a demonstration barrel for workshops in the future. At the next class meeting, the students showed up in their old clothes and got to work drilling holes for the water spigots, cutting mesh for the tops of the barrels, and painting the actual barrels. After the barrels dried, they set up a meeting with Dr. Ransdell one evening to present his new rain barrel. The university gardener, Josh Twardowski, accompanied the students to inform Dr. Ransdell of his plans to use the rain barrel to water various plants outside the Ransdells’ home. This photo was taken the evening of the presentation. If you are interested in attending a workshop where you will be able to decorate and take home your own rain barrel, please E-mail Robin Hume at robin.hume@wku.edu.

ENVE 560 class presents rain barrel to Dr. Ransdell

The instructors are reusing icing buckets from County Oven to use as the collecting hole for the rain to drain into the barrel.

cutting hole in barrelThe circumference of the bucket is
cut out from the top of the barrel so
the bucket, with the bottom removed,
can slide tightly into the hole, allowing
the roof-top rain to run into the barrel;
as show on the red barrel to the
right of the picture.

fitting screen to bucketThe lid of the bucket has the center removed, so to act as a rim
to seal a mesh to the top of bucket. This will prevent leaves or animals from entering the barrel.

cutting screen t fit bucketThe mesh is trimmed closely to the rim. The bottom half of the bucket is cut off to allow the rain to fill the barrel and the bell is removed.

drill hole for spigot

It is important to leave a distance from the ground to attach water hose to the spigot. Test the appropiate area to place spigot before drilling the hole.

insert spigot

The spigot is inserted into the drilled hole. Sometimes a leg lock around the barrel is necessary to hold the barrel still.

final touch-up painting

Choose any color you like and add decals for a finishing touch.


finished black barrelfinished red barrel


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 Last Modified 12/4/18